Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Eureka Miniatures Hawaiian War Canones

    Posted By on March 30, 2020

    I attached the sails to these canoes today, so here is the final product.

    Productivity on COVD-19 Weekend #2

    Posted By on March 30, 2020

    I am actually enjoying being self quarantined on the weekends. It minimizes the honey-do list. As someone who pegs out the “I” meter on Myers-Briggs, I have been practicing for self quarantine my whole life. I was able to complete quite a few figures this weekend.

    Eureka Miniatures Hawaiian war canoe.

    The first thing I did was open a box and find four of these Eureka Miniatures Hawaiian war canoes. I bought them months ago when Eureka first released their new Hawaiians. I didn’t want to assemble them before the move. There is not much to them. Picture I found on line show these canoes and un-ornamented, so there wasn’t a lot of detail to paint. I had to reach out to Nic Robson in Australia to figure out how to mount the sails on the masts. I hope to complete that this evening.

    Pulp Figures second edition movie camera crew.

    The second thing I knocked out was two packs of Pulp Figures I purchased months ago. They are redesigns and re-issues of figure sets I already had. They may have been the free packs I got when ordering enough figures online.

    Angry citizens of Granville.
    Headless Oathmark dwarves awaiting Star Hat duck heads.
    A 4L Really Useful box filled with fantasy ducks. This doesn’t even include my science fiction ducks. Yes, I am a nut for anthropomorphic ducks.

    Three conventions ago Chris and I split a box of Oathmark dwarves. My intent was to build them without heads. In the most recent duck Kickstarter from Star Hat miniatures, I convinced Darcy Perry to offer sprues of duck heads. As part of my Kickstarter I ordered several sprues. I finished the figures while painting some other Viking figures. The delivery of the heads is delayed based due to COVID-19.

    Some Vikings in front of a building the Greg 3D printed.

    Greg 3D printed three Saxon huts for me before I moved from Maryland, but I just got around to painting them this weekend. I think they turned out pretty nicely. This picture shows some Vikings that some of the HAWKs painted for me before I moved in front of one of the three buildings.

    A Viking figure I found in a stack of unpainted lead and a Bad Squiddo mounted shield maiden. After taking this picture I added a shield to the shield maiden.
    Colonel Hardoles

    Before Cold Wars, I was painting Ozz figures like crazy, but I didn’t have time to paint these three personality figures. These are named brigade commanders for the Wars of Ozz rules.

    Colonel Tik-Tok
    Colonel Sourdough

    As a club, the HAWKs is looking at running a large, spectacular What a Tanker game using Leonardo DaVinci tanks. Duncan has made some skeletons of trapezoidal tanks for us to complete, but I also ordered three 3D printed ones online in 1:48 scale. I assembled and painted them this weekend. The printing was somewhat crude, so they look good at “gaming distance” but don’t stand up well to close inspection.

    Work in Progress
    Another work in progress shot.
    Almost done.

    I’d say that is was a pretty productive weekend, and I even knocked out a couple of honey-dos.

    Hide your women and livestock! The Vikings are coming!

    Posted By on March 23, 2020

    I had ten Oathmark Viking figures partially completed since before my household move and purchase a handful of Bad Squiddo shield maidens at Cold Wars. This weekend, I had a chance to get them painted.

    Bad Squiddo shield maidens with axes.
    Rear of Bad Squiddo shield maidens with axes.
    Bad Squiddo shield maidens with swords.

    As with most Bad Squiddo figures the sculpting and the casting of the shield maidens is excellent.

    Oathmark Viking / Medieval infantry figures.
    More Oathmark Viking / Medieval infantry figures.

    I can’t wait to get these on the table with Feudal Patrol.

    Dragonbait Russian mechanical men.

    I ran into Joe Corsaro at Cold Wars. He told me about these cool Russian mechanical grenadier figures for his Venus 1888 line of figures. I have most of his females on mechanical horses, but I hadn’t seen these. So I bought five and painted them up. The assembly was really easy, all the parts fitting nicely. He says he has some really cool VSF coaches coming soon, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.

    Some Crooked Dice McGuffins for Pulp games.

    I saw this set of McGuffins at the Crooked Dice booth, but I originally passed on them until Greg convinced me that cats and dogs would live together if I didn’t buy them. I painted these up this weekend. I like the Holy Grail and the Maltese Falcon.

    The other half of the McGuffin packs. From left to right, you have the idol from the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the monkey from Tales of the Golden Monkey, the Ark of the Covenant, and some sort of Cthulu thing.

    Next up is the assembly and painting of Leonardo DaVinci tanks and Saxon buildings.

    Some COVID-19 Painting Progress

    Posted By on March 22, 2020

    Since most of us are “social distancing” and avoiding personal contact — sort of like Millennials with cell phones sitting in the same room texting each other — I have been painting a little. My daughter is home from school, and we’ve been doing things with her, so I haven’t gotten as much painted as I would normally. As we all work on our “lead mountain,” many mail-order business remain open, so make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

    Make sure this doesn’t happen to you!

    At Cold Wars last weekend, I purchased some the Black Sun “Deep Ones” from Pulp Figures. I painted them this week, because they weren’t very complicated, and I could easily pick them up and put them down as I was interrupted. I primed them white, painted them with Contrast Creed Camo, and then painted in the details.

    Dark Sun Deep Ones with rifles.
    Another view of the Deep Ones coming to get you!
    A final view.

    I supplemented these with the female lizard warrior from Bad Squiddo.

    Female lizard warrior from Bad Squiddo.

    When I return from a convention, I usually very quickly file, prime, and base any purchases so that when he muse strikes me, I am ready to paint. I have four Really Useful Boxes dedicating to holding my ready-to-go lead mole hill. Recently I re-discovered these armed frogs that will supplement my frog and turtle armies from Eureka Miniatures.

    Armed frogs. No, not Frenchmen. Real frogs.
    I painted a normal GASLIGHT ten-figure unit of them.
    I decided to get a little fancy with decorating their cloaks.

    Well, it’s 0400, and I can’t sleep. So back to the painting table.

    Recently Completed Ozz Figures

    Posted By on March 10, 2020

    The race to get all my Ozz figures painted for Cold Wars 2020 is over. Last night I completed the last four figures. The other HAWKs are still working to get across the finish line, but since they are two hours away from the convention instead of 15, they have another day.

    Quadling brigade commander riding a wild boar.

    Russ sent me four sample Quadling cavalrymen to preview. We haven’t received all the mounted commanders for the infantry and cavalry regiments, so I decided to repurpose these samples as regimental and brigade commanders.

    Central Province Quadlings with a regimental commander, who is vain enough to carry his own standard.

    This is what an infantry and cavalry regiment in Wars of Ozz is supposed to look like: five bases plus a mounted leader. The regimental commander is really mostly for aesthetics in the rules, but doesn’t a unit look cool this way?!

    Northern Province Quadlings with regimental commander.

    I really like the looks of these “big battalions.” It reminds me a little of In a Grand Manner.

    Southern Province Quadlings with regimental commander.
    Size comparison of the four major Wars of Ozz nationalities.

    On the Facebook page and on some of the on-line fora, there have been questions about figure size. The range is nominally 28mm; however, the different nationalities are different sizes. From left to right in the picture you see Munchkins, Gillikins, Quadlings, and Winkies. The Winkies are probably the closest to 28mm, with the Munchkins and Gillikins being of smaller stature and the Quadlings being beefier and taller.

    We are running FOUR Wars of Ozz demonstration / participation games at Cold Wars 2020 this weekend. One is Friday evening, and there are a morning, afternoon, and evening game on Saturday. Give the rules a try and see what a mass of Wars of Ozz figures look like on the table.

    Completed Ozz Figures for Cold Wars

    Posted By on March 8, 2020

    Today I finished the figures I will be using for the demonstration / participation games at Cold Wars next weekend. Several members of the HAWKs are also painting figures to be ready. You really need to come and try these rules and see these figures at Cold Wars.

    A mass of Winkies

    Here is a brigade of five regiments of Winkie infantry. The brigade commander is riding a Zilk.

    Another view of the mass of Winkies.

    Winkies are cheap troops, because they have no firearms. But they do well in melee, and there are a lot of them.

    Another view.
    And one more view.
    These are the Winkies I completed today.
    And a closer view.

    I also recently finished three regiments of Quadlings.

    Southern Province Quadlings
    Another view.
    Central Province Quadlings
    Another view.
    Northern Province Quadlings.
    A closer view.
    Lesser Pumpkinheads ready for action.

    More WIP Wars of Ozz Figures

    Posted By on March 5, 2020

    I woke at 0230 this morning, and I started thinking about work and couldn’t get back to sleep. So, I went to the painting lair and continued work on the Wars of Ozz figures I need to have done for Cold Wars demonstration games.

    Quadlings from the Northern Province.

    Quadling land is made of three provinces: North, Central, and South. These are big farm boys. The Northern Province Quadlings have a roughly British Napoleonic look about them. The regiment picture above is nearly complete. I need to paint the officer’s sash (probably green) and base and flock them. Due to the race to get a LOT of units painted for Cold Wars, decoration of the bases will probably not be done in time.

    Central Province Quadlings.

    The Quadlings from the Central Province have a roughly French Napoleonic look about them. These are getting close. I need to paint the three colors on the muskets (black, brass, and silver) some of the lace, the blanket rolls, and the bases.

    Southern Province Quadlings.

    The Quadlings from the Southern Province are meant to be roughly American War of Independence looking in their homespun brown coats. I have to paint the rifles and red stripe down the trousers. I also need to affix the flags to all the units.

    For all three regiments, I need to paint the drums and attach them to the drummers. If I can stay up long enough this evening, I should finish the Quadlings and only have two regiments of Winkies left to paint by Sunday evening.

    Wars of Ozz Figures Work in Progress

    Posted By on March 2, 2020

    I have been painting at a feverish pace to get all the pre-production figures ready for FOUR demonstration games at Cold Wars in two weeks. Below you can see the work in progress pictures of many of the units. I don’t think any of these units have been previewed before, so enjoy this first look. (The figures are nicer than perhaps my paint job conveys, but these will give you an idea what will be coming soon.)

    A view of the Munchkin light cavalry regiment. I have not decorated the bases or put on the flags yet in these pictures.
    Another view of the Munchkin light cavalry.
    A view from a different angle. All Munchkin cavalry is equipped with carbines.
    A view of Munchkin heavy calvary. These are also armed with carbines.
    Another view.
    Munchkin heavy artillery. Note the bright colors of the artillery carriages. A result of the “madness bombs” that caused society to disintegrate is that the survivors have a penchant for bright colors.
    Munchkin light artillery.
    Gillikin heavy artillery.
    Gillikin light artillery.

    In addition to the four major nationalities (Munchkins, Quadlings, Gillikins, and Winkies), there are a number of other forces that can be used as “allies” or mercenaries when players create their armies. Below are pictures of one of those allies, the lesser pumpkin heads.

    A view of lesser pumpkin heads.
    Another view.
    A third view.
    A long shot of a lesser pumpkin head regiment.

    I have three regiments of Quadlings to try to finish by Cold Wars. Here they are on the table ready for a coat of apothecary white.

    Three Quadling regiments waiting to be painted.

    Wars of Ozz Play Test at HAWKs Night

    Posted By on February 24, 2020

    I was up in Maryland last weekend and had a chance to rejoin the HAWKs for club night. Along with Chris Palmer, Greg Priebe, Duncan Adams and Zeb Cook, we staged a rather large play test of Wars of Ozz. The rules are coming along. Each play test uncovers some minor issue that needs to be addressed or more clearly described in the draft rules, but the basic mechanics are working pretty well.

    Zeb’s Winkies and Great Winged Apes attack Chris’ Munchkins and Great Pumpkin Heads while Greg holds the Munchkin center.
    Duncan’s Quadling infantry and cavalry advance up the center to seize the Munchkin village. Duncan’s die rolling was habitually poor, so his forces advanced pretty slowly.
    In the foreground you can see some Munchkins defending the field and town while Eric’s and Kevin’s Winkies (played with ersatz figures) advance.
    A long shot of the table about 1/3 into the game.

    We have Wars of Ozz official figures of Munchkins, some Winkies, and some of the other allies, but as we continue to play test the rules, we use ersatz figures as stand ins.

    A close up shot of Zoraster’s guard defending a hedged field.
    A view of two Winkie regiments early in the game.
    All smiles before the carnage began.
    The bad guys prepare to attack.

    Napoleonic Day at JJCon 2020

    Posted By on January 28, 2020

    Each year around the last weekend in January (usually Super Bowl weekend) a bunch of us get together to game our eyes out all weekend. Some are my high school gaming buddies, some are HAWKs. It is at my buddy JJ’s house outside Charlotte, NC, so we refer to the weekend as JJ Con. There were six of us this year as a few of the regulars were unable to attend.

    I am in the middle of a move from Maryland to Florida. I had a car full of electronics and breakables, and Charlotte was a nice half way point. Of course a weekend of sleep deprivation made the second half of the drive from North Carolina to Florida less fun.

    Friday we played a Combat Patrol(TM) France 1940 game with a scenario from one of the Skirmish Campaigns books. It was a lot of fun. Several of the attendees of JJ Con only game this one time a year, so we tend to stick with simple-to-learn rules and try to use the same rules each year to reduce the re-learning curve. Mark and Nick quickly recalled the Combat Patrol rules and were good-to-go after a turn or two. The French defenders won. We also played Eric’s fun cowboy game using Blood and Swash. That evening we played Roman Circus chariot racing and a “board game,” called Captain Sonar. Both were much fun.

    Column, Line, Square

    Saturday turned out to be Napoleonic Day. When we were in high school in Michigan, one of the adults we played with was Nick, who now lives in South Carolina and attends JJ Con each year. He played a lot of Column, Line, Square in the old days. Since moving to South Carolina his French, Russian, and Austrian armies have been packed away in boxes. I have been encouraging him for several years to break them out and put them on the table. This year he did! CLS has a great old-school feel. You do multiplication. The rules were written on a typewriter. And there were these wonderfully large battalions.

    Russian cavalry forms up.

    None of us had played CLS for at least 25 years, so we were all learning or re-learning for the first game. The table starts with a lot of figures and units and empties quickly, so after the first game we reset the table, changed the scenario, and played again. The second game went more smoothly, as we all had a good understanding of the basics — and were improving our math skills.

    Setting up the game.
    The French advance.
    The game commences.

    Duncan’s die rolling was up to par. In the second game, he failed just about every morale check (rolling 2, 3, or 4 on two dice), and at the end of the third turn, most of the units in the French center had routed to the table edge were were attempting to reform. This gave us time to deal with the other French infantry separately, but JJ’s French cavalry and Legere turned our flank and captured the key road intersection.

    Another view of the advancing French. Don’t you just love those huge battalions?! This is what got me into wargaming in the first place!
    The stalwart Russian defense.

    There was the inevitable kvetching over the rules, which don’t necessarily appeal to modern tastes in rules, but I liked them at least as well as I remember enjoying them as a kid. Memory hadn’t romanticized them too much. One thing about CLS: stuff happens. I get frustrated when after ten turns of play, the table looks the same as it did ten hours before. In CLS, after about six turns, it was easy to see who won, because half the units had routed off the table. Musketry, cannon fire, and especially canister are devastating. The rules for melee are somewhat tedious, with lots of opposed die rolls needed, but again, the eventual outcome was clear and dramatic.

    Early in the second game.

    It was good to see these big battalions of Minifigs on the table again, and I think everyone enjoyed the games.

    Combat Patrol(TM) Napoleonics

    Our third game on Saturday was Duncan’s “Battle Before the Battle” scenario with Combat Patrol. In this game, both sides take the role of the skirmish screen as a French column advances to attack a British line. It was a close-run affair, with the British scoring more hits on the French battalion, but the British line receiving a withdraw and pin result from the French skirmish fire.

    Early in the game.
    The skirmishing commences. In this picture you can see the British line on the left represented by blocks of wood with pictures of figures applied. On the right you can see the head of the French column, also represented as blocks of wood. As the French column advances, two more blocks of wood are added to the column to show its advance.